GRTC zeroes in on two downtown sites for new transfer station

grtc buses cropped

GRTC is planning to build a permanent transfer station and mixed-use development near Richmond’s courthouse. (BizSense file)

The field of potential sites for GRTC’s new permanent transfer station has narrowed to two.

The transit organization now is eyeing the city-owned Public Safety Building property at 500 N. 10th St. as well as the adjacent city-owned parking lot GRTC is using for its temporary bus station, spokesman Henry Bendon confirmed this week.

The pair of properties were whittled down from a short-list of five sites across the city.

In addition to a permanent home for GRTC’s bus route nexus, the project site also would be home to a mixed-use development. While initial designs for the mixed-use piece differ between the two finalist sites, both feature ground-floor retail and hundreds of apartments.

The Public Safety Building site would feature 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, while the plans for a permanent facility at the current temporary bus hub would include 10,000 square feet of retail. Both sites would feature about 500 apartment units, according to Bendon.

Recent conceptual renderings for the project show plans for a ground-level bus station with commercial space built next it on the street level and apartments occupying upper stories. The project could potentially include a hotel and office uses.

grtc transfer station rendering 1

A rendering of GRTC’s proposed permanent bus transfer facility and mixed-use development on the site of the transit organization’s current temporary bus hub in downtown Richmond. (Courtesy GRTC)

The permanent transfer station is planned to feature 10 bus bays and would be a central point for GRTC bus routes across the area to connect and transfer riders.

A cost estimate for the project hasn’t been determined yet. The project is expected to be realized through a public-private partnership, and GRTC hasn’t selected a developer.

GRTC’s current temporary bus transfer station is situated at the parking lot next to the Richmond courthouse complex at 400 N. Ninth St. GRTC has a five-year lease on the property that ends in 2027. GRTC opened its temporary bus hub there last year.

The Public Safety Building site, which is being razed, had been eyed by VCU Health for a $325 million redevelopment project that fell through in a heap of controversy.

After that, Virginia Commonwealth University indicated interest in the site for a new dentistry school, though the university more recently announced plans to build that facility on the MCV campus.

GRTC planned to hold a public meeting to discuss the project Wednesday evening, following a meeting in January. A final report with recommendations is expected in April.

GRTC has said the site consideration process is the first part of a five- to eight-year process. Construction on the project wouldn’t start until after 2025.

HR&A Advisors, VHB and Design Collective were tapped to help GRTC identify and create a new downtown transfer station.

grtc buses cropped

GRTC is planning to build a permanent transfer station and mixed-use development near Richmond’s courthouse. (BizSense file)

The field of potential sites for GRTC’s new permanent transfer station has narrowed to two.

The transit organization now is eyeing the city-owned Public Safety Building property at 500 N. 10th St. as well as the adjacent city-owned parking lot GRTC is using for its temporary bus station, spokesman Henry Bendon confirmed this week.

The pair of properties were whittled down from a short-list of five sites across the city.

In addition to a permanent home for GRTC’s bus route nexus, the project site also would be home to a mixed-use development. While initial designs for the mixed-use piece differ between the two finalist sites, both feature ground-floor retail and hundreds of apartments.

The Public Safety Building site would feature 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, while the plans for a permanent facility at the current temporary bus hub would include 10,000 square feet of retail. Both sites would feature about 500 apartment units, according to Bendon.

Recent conceptual renderings for the project show plans for a ground-level bus station with commercial space built next it on the street level and apartments occupying upper stories. The project could potentially include a hotel and office uses.

grtc transfer station rendering 1

A rendering of GRTC’s proposed permanent bus transfer facility and mixed-use development on the site of the transit organization’s current temporary bus hub in downtown Richmond. (Courtesy GRTC)

The permanent transfer station is planned to feature 10 bus bays and would be a central point for GRTC bus routes across the area to connect and transfer riders.

A cost estimate for the project hasn’t been determined yet. The project is expected to be realized through a public-private partnership, and GRTC hasn’t selected a developer.

GRTC’s current temporary bus transfer station is situated at the parking lot next to the Richmond courthouse complex at 400 N. Ninth St. GRTC has a five-year lease on the property that ends in 2027. GRTC opened its temporary bus hub there last year.

The Public Safety Building site, which is being razed, had been eyed by VCU Health for a $325 million redevelopment project that fell through in a heap of controversy.

After that, Virginia Commonwealth University indicated interest in the site for a new dentistry school, though the university more recently announced plans to build that facility on the MCV campus.

GRTC planned to hold a public meeting to discuss the project Wednesday evening, following a meeting in January. A final report with recommendations is expected in April.

GRTC has said the site consideration process is the first part of a five- to eight-year process. Construction on the project wouldn’t start until after 2025.

HR&A Advisors, VHB and Design Collective were tapped to help GRTC identify and create a new downtown transfer station.

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David Maughan
David Maughan
1 month ago

So exciting to see this take shape and include so much housing! Both plots seem like decent options.

Morgan Greer
Morgan Greer
1 month ago
Reply to  David Maughan

Perhaps both sites could be utilized – one for GRTC’s local transit hub and the second adjacent block for an intercity transfer station/mixed use development. With Greyhound’s bus station property across from the Diamond District sold and soon to be razed the city needs a location for the various bus companies to operate from.

Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
1 month ago
Reply to  Morgan Greer

Keep dreaming…a dose of reality is if NYC can’t make The Fulton Center work, Richmond won’t make this work either.

Morgan Greer
Morgan Greer
1 month ago
Reply to  Arnold Hager

I used the transportation center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a similar concept seemed to be working there. The size of the city is less important than the execution. Richmond has also been a major bus transfer nexus between the North East and destinations in the South.

Peter James
Peter James
1 month ago
Reply to  Arnold Hager

Respectfully, this time-worn “it won’t work in Richmond because it’s Richmond” trope is outmoded, short-sighted and defeatist. It’s part of the old-school “keep Richmond small” mentality that has held this city back for the entirety of my lifetime, and I’m 61. It’s time we break this mold, think outside the box and not just dream big, but make big things happen.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
30 days ago
Reply to  Peter James

I think you have a great point but the problem with these things are always in the details and it usually has to do with WHO the people are who are doing the executing — are the people ideological? Are they corrupt somehow? Are they competent? Any one of these weaknesses can be overcome by other factors if the stars are aligning, but more than one of these problems creates havoc — witness what has been going on in NYC public transportation more generally and you might see what I am talking about — back when deBlassio was mayor, it… Read more »

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  Morgan Greer

Would be nice but they are talking 10 bays only in the article. That means no room for Greyhound or anyone else inside the transfer station unless service to Richmond is going to be cut to nothing. Greyhound and its sister, despite closing up all the retail at this station, still has 5-7 buses sitting at any given time around the stations bays.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Maughan

Glad to see the transfer station but VCU plans included retail which was pulled when the first redesign occured. A state entity planned paying millions in rent to a landlord but still could NOT make a mixed use project work basically in the middle of their campus but all of the sudden adding a GRTC bus transfer station will make it a success cost-effective??? With HOW much taxpayers funds to a developer??? Hotel for who hospital patient’s family member…are we talking the Hospitality House rebuilt??? FYI and only 10 bus bays that is tiny and I doubt Greyhound would be… Read more »

Eric Viking
Eric Viking
1 month ago

I think only 10 bus bays is short-sighted. Need to have at least 15-20. Would also be nice to have a hotel as part of this development. Tourists could stay there and conveniently have public transportation right there for them to get around.

William Bagby
William Bagby
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric Viking

10 bays is actually enough. Note that not all GRTC routes uses the current Temporary Plaza, just the ones that serves that part of downtown. And I’m sure the new permanent Plaza will be similar. The timing of busses in and out of the plaza will negate the need for more bays, even if GRTC routes even more buses to it, as multiple routes use a single bay.

Peter James
Peter James
1 month ago
Reply to  William Bagby

I’ve seen similar bus transfer hubs in other cities (example: Chicago) – and you are correct: multiple routes can – and do – operate out of individual bays. Signage – particularly the electronic signs indicating which route(s) are serving any given bay and how many minutes until the next bus arrives – facilitate this kind of operation.

Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter James

I’m all for it; if it works. By the way…are bus fares still free?
How can this possibly work as a viable business model if no revenue is generated? This democrat socialist model will not make things better for the long run in my opinion. But, let’s try it and see what happens.

Well governed communities should make well governed individuals.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
30 days ago
Reply to  Arnold Hager

Apparently many people do not want well-governed communities here, considering the downvotes.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
30 days ago
Reply to  William Bagby

Oh, dream BIGGER!!! After all, it’s other peoples money!!!

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
30 days ago
Reply to  Eric Viking

I don’t think hotels do well near bus stations…. who will build these bus stations? The City? Will the City be able to use federal transportation funds to build hotels?

I am just saying that I seriously doubt the people who build hotels will want to build one around a bus transfer site. BTW, if you take a bus from Richmond to midtown Manhattan the bus “station” is a vacant lot with a little trailer on it.

Scott Sirles
Scott Sirles
1 month ago

The money for this would be better spent building out the existing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT, a/k/a Pulse) system.This would include extending the existing Pulse route to Sandston (including stops at the airport) and to West Creek and adding as many as six BRT routes to the system. As each BRT route is completed, existing local routes would be re-oriented as BRT connectors rather than Suburban to Urban routes. Thus, we end up with only BRT routes downtown and the need for local transit hubs disappears.

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
1 month ago

I know this comment will not go over well, but public transportation is part of the problem. It keeps poor people dependent on the government for transportation and limits where they can go for work or education purposes. I know it can help give people a hand up, but normally just enables the status quo.

Morgan Greer
Morgan Greer
30 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

How are they limited by public transit being available? They can still choose to use private transportation – personal vehicle, uber, taxi, biking, walking, etc. Making buses available for the entire population (they aren’t limited by income) isn’t creating a system of dependency. Most thriving cities have extensive public transportation – and the better it is, the more it’s used by everyone regardless of income.

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
30 days ago
Reply to  Morgan Greer

I am not sure what “Thriving Cities” you are talking about, but I don’t really think that that is a thing in this world anymore. Most are just socalist city states where the politicians stay in power by telling the poor to vote for them and they will fix things, but nothing ever changes.
There are two mindsets. Some people want to go by their own schedule, not the bus schedule. The other is, I don’t need my own transportation, I have the bus.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
30 days ago
Reply to  Scott Brown

I would upvote this if you posted any evidence for this statement. I tend to disagree. I often used public transportation as a youth when my car died or the weather made biking impossible, and there were many people who rode the bus to low paying jobs — taking away the bus would not magically make people think “I better get a nursing degree” but likely become even MORE dependent on the govt, or homeless, I think.

Scott Brown
Scott Brown
30 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

I am not saying it can’t help people when needed, just that it would be a good idea to not need it.
My only evidence is personal observation of others, including family.

Heywood Harrison
Heywood Harrison
28 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

When I worked downtown early in my career, I rode the bus almost every day. It was convenient and less expensive than finding affordable parking. Whether GRTC works as a convenient mode of transportation today is debatable.